There is dancing in the streets of El Rocio this morning as news spreads of the reprimand given to the UK government (esp Defra) by the EU over the poor job done by the UK to protect blanket bogs from burning. Blanket bogs don’t prosper under a scorched earth strategy and all this crap about cool burns is just nonsense.
The UK has been letting grouse moor owners and managers burn blanket bogs in protected areas without the appropriate assessment of impact. Natural England has, therefore, been rather rubbish too.
We learn today (or yesterday actually) that the UK was given a formal letter of notice about this a year ago – not something that the Defra minister Therese Coffey thought to mention in the Westminster Hall debate about banning driven grouse shooting. Funny that.
The UK now has two months to respond – a bit unlikely since there is a general election happening – and then the UK may be referred to the European Court of Justice. Excellent! We may get some hefty fines to add to our Brexit bill because of government incompetence and intransigence.
We are leaving the EU, but we haven’t left it yet. This case might be a very interesting one in gauging how awful the government ‘s position will be on environmental matters after Brexit. Will future Defra ministers (likely to be Tories, but I do hope not Coffey or Leadsom) hold their hands up and admit fault or will they point to this as red tape and gold plating? We’ll see.
But this is the best thing that has happened in the grouse moor debate in 2017. Hoorah!